For the past few weeks, everyone here at the VolunteerMatch office has been paying close attention to our live connection map. This map lets us see, in real time, every time someone clicks the “I want to help!” button on a VolunteerMatch listing.
So, why have we been watching this map so closely?
We’ve been counting down to a huge milestone: 10 million connections created between nonprofits and potential volunteers. And at around 7 a.m. on Monday October 5, 2015, the 10,000,000th prospective volunteer clicked “I want to help!”
You may be saying, “So what?” Well, we all celebrated with cake, so that was something to look forward to:
But besides that, it actually says a lot about the world of volunteering.
When a volunteer clicks, “I want to help!”, that’s just the beginning. The initial click is a good intention. It’s an opportunity for nonprofits to reach out and build a relationship with a new prospective volunteer. It’s a mutual hope to take action and make the world a better place.
What happens next? Well, according to our research, only about half of “I want to help!” clicks turn into actual volunteers. Why? Maybe the nonprofit never responded to the volunteer’s offer. Maybe it turned out it wasn’t a good fit once the volunteer and the nonprofit learned more about each other’s skills, schedule, and wants. Maybe the volunteer simply changed their mind.
So, out of 10 million online connections, about 5 million actually volunteered. 5 million. That’s not an inconsequential number. That’s 5 million opportunities for nonprofits to grow their capacity. That’s 5 million ways for volunteers give back, become a part of something, and/ or build their skills. 5 million chances to make our communities, and the world, just a little bit better.
Let’s break it down even more. On average, a volunteer will stay with an organization for 2.5 years. During those 2.5 years, they will volunteer 28 days at an average of 3 hours per day. Add all that together, and you have 150 hours per volunteer. What does that equal when multiplied by 5 million?
750,000,000 volunteer hours.
Let’s just step back and think about all that can be, and has been, accomplished with 750 million hours. To put it in perspective, that’s 1,205 entire lifetimes. Here are just a few examples of some of the volunteers and nonprofits making a big difference with their time. Oh, and a few more.
It’s amazing to think about everything that’s already been done, and what we all can accomplish, together, in the next 750,000,000 hours.